Britain trails US in app's number of Irish language learners

Britain trails US in app's number of Irish language learners

IRISH language lovers in Britain have a long way to go before catching up with their American counterparts.

According to the latest figures, linguistic app Duolingo has just nine per cent of its users based in Britain -  compared to a massive 64 per cent in the US.

The free-to-use app was launched two years ago and has over 50million users worldwide, offering language games and courses in several languages.

The Irish language section was just launched this week and has already been used in several corners of the world.

An impressive 143,000 people have begun the Irish courses with Duolingo.

Of the early sign-ups, nine per cent are based in Britain. Outside of Ireland, which itself claims nine per cent of users, the remaining would-be Gaeilgóirí are based in other Irish expat haunts; the US, Canada and Australia.

Unlike most Irish people’s classroom-based memory of Gaeilge, Duolingo promises to be fun. It involves pictures, games and audio for an interactive learning experience.

Duolingo has grown quickly to become one of the world’s best teaching apps.

Apple awarded it the prestigious title of ‘App of the Year’ in 2013 and the aim of the app is to encourage people to refresh their existing language skills or learn a new one from scratch.

Though adding Irish to the likes of French, German and Italian is good news for wannabe Gaeilgóirí, it is not a financial boost for Duolingo.

But money is not what drives the company.

“We want to provide the opportunity for everyone to learn whatever language they want regardless of their financial background. That’s why we set up Duolingo in the first place,” said Gina Goffhilf, head of marketing and international development.

While Britain’s population of Irish speakers pales in comparison to that of the US, Gaeilge in Ireland boasts 1.77million speakers, according to the 2011 census. However, just 1.8 per cent of those use the language daily in their homes.